How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Changed my Academic Journey

Pai Kuo
Department of Chinese as a Second Language

When the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the world, distance learning policies were hastily implemented, forcing students to adopt a new way of studying. Initially, I underestimated the impact of the pandemic on my life, thinking it was just another temporary disruption. However, Covid-19 turned out to be a long-term issue that changed my study life and work style in every aspect.

As for distance learning, it took some time for teachers and students to get used to it. I encountered technical issues with my devices, such as malfunctioning cameras or microphones, which hindered my learning effectiveness. There were times when I would be stuck on mute, unable to voice my opinions or engage in discussions. Moreover, while I appreciated the flexibility that came with online classes, I found it harder to stay motivated and focused without the structure and social interaction of traditional in-person learning. To overcome these challenges, I would check my devices beforehand, building a strong habit of being prepared. Also, when the confines of my own home began to feel stifling, I sought refuge in coffee shops and fast food joints, where I could study in peace and focus on my work.

Teachers faced frustrations with remote learning, too. In Taiwan, students are not used to opening their cameras online, making it difficult for teachers to gauge their comprehension and engagement. Furthermore, teachers often struggled with their technical issues or lacked digital teaching skills. However, despite these challenges, the pandemic has also created more online Mandarin teaching opportunities, with new language teaching platforms emerging. As an online mandarin teacher myself, I’ve faced similar challenges in engaging students and troubleshooting technical difficulties, especially getting students involved. Once I taught a mandarin class to a group of eleven seven-year-old students. They proved to be easily distracted and lost concentration after thirty minutes of class time. However, I have also found that remote teaching has pushed me to develop new skills and approaches to instruction. By incorporating more interactive tools and techniques, such as virtual whiteboards, interactive online games, and breakout rooms, I have been able to create a more dynamic and engaging learning environment for my students.

Overall, the pandemic has been a significant disruptor to my academic journey, testing the resilience and adaptability of students and teachers, but it has also presented opportunities for growth and learning. As the saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” I believe that by embracing the challenges of remote learning, I’ve become more adaptable, self-sufficient, and creative in my approach to education.